Cargo scanner

Australian researchers at CSIRO Minerals have developed a scanner that can accurately and rapidly detect illicit drugs and explosives concealed inside air freight containers.

The Australian Institute of Physics has awarded Brian Sowerby and James Tickner from CSIRO Minerals with the 2004 Alan Walsh Medal for Service to Industry for their work developing a scanner that can accurately and rapidly detect illicit drugs and explosives concealed inside air freight containers.

The patented scanner is unique in the way it employs gamma rays and neutron analysis to build an image and identify the composition of the object being scanned. Its developers estimate that scanning an air freight container will take less than two minutes.

The main advantage of the scanner over current scanners is its ability to accurately and rapidly detect and predict the composition, shape and density of an object – in real-time without unpacking the container.

Conventional X-ray scanners are good at detecting objects based on their density and shape – but not their composition.

The Australian Federal Government has allocated $8.4 million dollars to the Australian Customs Service to construct a commercial-scale facility at Brisbane Airport to trial the first commercial prototype of the scanner being developed by CSIRO.

Installation is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2005.

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